Kurds see Russia as security guarantor in Syria

February 1, 2019

By Karin Leukefeld

This article was published in the German daily Junge Welt on Jan. 30. Translation by IAC Co-Director John Catalinotto.

The leadership of the “Democratic Federation of Northern Syria” (DFNS) is looking for one or more new powers to protect them after the announced withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Syria. A Turkish invasion or the establishment of a 30-kilometer-wide “protection zone” under Turkish control would mean the end of the DFNS plans for the region.

They have appealed to the “international community” to impose a “no-fly zone” over northern Syria. A visit to the Élysée Palace in Paris at the end of 2018 brought no tangible results. In Cairo, in mid-January, a Kurdish delegation asked for support from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. Ilham Ahmed, co-chair of the DFNS Supreme Council, spoke in Washington at the end of last week; according to Bloomberg TV, which interviewed Ahmed, she is trying to win U.S. assistance against Turkey.

The Russian government considers the best solution would be for the Syrian government and the Syrian armed forces to regain control of the territories. This is in line with international law and with the demand of UN Resolution 2254 for the “territorial integrity” of Syria.

The Kurdish news agency Anha published a list of demands on Jan. 19 laying out the basis on which the DFNS delegation is to negotiate with the Syrian government in Damascus. This “roadmap” had already been presented to Russia at the end of 2018, reported the Arab-English daily Asharq al-Awsat, stating that it had received a copy of the list of demands.

Under the demands, Russia is to act as a guarantor power for the Syrian Kurds vis-à-vis the Syrian government. Sipan Hemo, commander-in-chief of the People’s Defense Units (YPG), presented the proposal to both Damascus and Moscow.

In detail, it says that the “unity of Syria” would be recognized; that Syria should be a “democratic republic” to which also the “autonomous administration” [of the Kurdish region] should belong; that the “autonomous administrations should have representatives in the parliament in Damascus” and that beside the Syrian flag there should also fly the “flags of the autonomous administrations.”

Point five states that “diplomacy in the territories of the autonomous administrations is not contrary to the interests of the Syrian people and the Constitution.” Furthermore, the “Syrian Democratic Forces” are to become part of the Syrian army, which is responsible for the protection of the border.

Point seven demands that the “internal security forces in the areas of the Autonomous Administration should operate on the instructions of the local councils,” which does not contradict the Syrian constitution. Point ten demands that the “Syrian wealth be fairly distributed to all areas of Syria.”

The demands are similar to the partial autonomy agreed to between the Kurdish government in northern Iraq and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 1970. It would be their own administration, own army, own foreign policy and at the same time everything again in the national parliament. With control of the most important gas and oil deposits east of the Euphrates, and large wheat and water resources in the Euphrates valley, the Syrian Kurds obviously think they have a “convincing deposit” in their hands.

(PHOTO CREDIT: Kurdishstruggle on Flickr)